November 25, 2014

Proposal says Missouri higher education underfunded by $388 million

A proposed plan for funding the state’s colleges and universities says those institutions aren’t getting enough money. The draft says Missouri’s colleges and universities are underfunded by the state, by about $388 million dollars.

Senator David Pearce (standing, left) opens the hearing of the Joint Education Committee.

Senator David Pearce (standing, left) opens the hearing of the Joint Education Committee.

Joint Education Committee Chairman Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) says that’s a gap that can’t be closed overnight.

“Our funding for higher education has not happened overnight as far as decreases to higher education, nor will increases, and so this just shows to be fully funded that’s what this committee feels [is needed], an increase of $387 million.”

With the release of the spreadsheet, the Committee now wants the state’s 13 institutions and other interested parties to comment on the draft. Its next step will be to issue its final report. The Senate has set a deadline to file legislation by the end of this month.

The formula for funding K-12 education is underfunded by about $686 million dollars. Pearce says his committee thought it was important to show Higher Education is underfunded as well.

House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) ties consideration of how that $388 million gap might be closed to the subject of expanding Medicaid eligibility.

“The more money we choose long-term to dump into Medicaid, there will be less money for higher ed and K-12 because the Governor has said let’s just take all the free money in the federal program. He has not said what we’re going to do 3, 4, 5 years out when the federal government starts retreating from that. Once we agree to that entitlement we’re going to have to find the money in our budget, and the Governor has not suggested we raise taxes, so the revenue has to come from another line item in the budget. The next biggest buckets? Education … both higher ed and K-12, other social services.”

The committee must develop a formula by the end of 2013 that can be implemented in time for fiscal year 2015 appropriations.